Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Virgil the Virulent

A friend e-mailed me this weekend about the Virgil Goode affair, told me that he'd been in college with old Virge, who was an asshat then and remains an asshat now.

Much has been written about Virgil Goode and his disdain for the bedrock philosophy underpinning our political system, about his pandering to the most ignorant and fearful among us, about his disregard for the first principle, the very first Amendment to our Constitution, which recognizes that paramount to a free society is the freedom to believe and worship as one chooses, if one chooses to believe at all.

I've decided instead to write of the loss Virgil Goode has suffered in not knowing the people he vilifies so readily. At the heart of Christianity is the knowledge that all people are human and all humans worthy of being treated as individuals who rise and fall on their own merits and not upon their class or ethnicity. Virgil, like many self-satisfied and smug people who call themselves Christians, sees only a monolith when he looks at Muslims, a big, dangerous monolith bent on destroying American values. Well, Virgil, maybe you should get to know some Muslims. There are plenty available in this area. Some are devout, just like Christians you know, and some are Muslim in name only. Some of them believe their faith calls upon them to be kind and generous to others and some believe their faith makes them the tyrants of their households (you know, like the LaHayes). Some are knuckleheads, just like some non-Muslims, but the vast majority seem to be ordinary people who want what's best for their families, who want their kids educated and their trash picked up and their commutes to be shorter. A lot of them are indeed immigrants, although I know a number of home-grown American Muslims and converts. Has Virgil ever seen a mosque bulletin? They have them, you know, just like Christian churches. They list the dates of the clothing drives and the youth car washes, carry ads for local businesses, announce activities of their scout troops (yes, Virgil, there are even Muslim Boy and Girl Scouts), and list speaker schedules.

Read some of the prattlings of the Christian right and see a vision of Jesus wrapped up in American flag, spouting Republican values, and sporting an M-16. A brief perusal of some of the more conservative sites today showed me glowing tributes to Jesus in the margins, pious statements of "unto us a child is born", and references to the "Prince of Peace", and "goodwill toward men". Some of these same sites are defending Virgil Goode and ranting against Muslims as if by definition all Muslims are fanatics. Well if they're all fanatics and anti-democratic, why are we trying to cram our version of democracy down a Muslim country's throat? Why is it that the Christian rage on the right is so dogmatic and so full of hate for an entire class of people? It seems to me decidedly un-Christian to hate and fear Muslims just for being. Jesus preached that we should love our enemy, but these so-called devout Christians can't even muster a live and let live attitude toward their neighbors.

No comments: